All day long I’ve been in a strange mood.
“Yes, but you’re always in a strange mood,” you’re thinking.
No, this is not the ordinary kind of strangeness. This strangeness is extraordinary, tinged with something that I couldn’t quite identify until just moments ago. I didn’t realize why until I remembered that, nine years ago to the day, my darling Poppop (my mom’s father) died.
What’s weird is that all day I’ve been smelling him. Not the cigar that seemed permanently welded to his hand. Not the food that he would prepare for hours in his kitchen. No, the smell is of his “person”. His body. Today I smell like him. It’s really quite strange, since I haven’t exerted myself at all today, physically. And it’s not warm in here. Yet my skin is giving off a sort of … scent …
What’s even weirder is that this happened to me last year too. Not the scent, but a reminder. A reminder of a day that still pains me, nine years after the event. Last year I wrote about it in longhand. (I didn’t even know that “blogs” existed then and the idea of creating my own website was still just a sort of “fantasy”.)
This is what I wrote last year:
Oh, I just laughed aloud to myself. People must think I’m insane. Strange, isn’t it, and really sad as well, that happiness is frowned upon and treated with suspicion. “What’re you smiling about?” as if it’s a crime.
Ahh, to feel like this on a regular basis. Where do I sign up? I’m in love with the wind, the air, the sky, the chill on my arms on this uncharacteristically chilly July afternoon. It must be Poppop, smiling down on me, on this, the eighth anniversary of his “passing”. I feel him here, I feel his strong hands holding my wrists and making me playfully slap my own cheeks. He is in the air, he is here, he was with me when I stole the bullshit things from Brian’s hotel room. It was his hand that put the smallest jar of Heinz ketchup in my purse. It was his suggestion that I slip the Neutrogena shampoo and conditioner (“My brand!” I exclaimed) into my bag. And it most certainly was his doing that the small cobalt blue bud vase and white zinnias (I think) are now sealed in a Ziploc baggie, giggling up at me from where they rest inside my bag. I eyed the salt and pepper shakers for quite a while as well, seeing them through his eyes as a token gift for me, his oldest granddaughter.
“Poppop! What is this?”
“You said you liked it in the restaurant.”
And so it would be mine.
Poppop, I dedicate the purloined contents of my purse to you! Here’s to [his full name]! My sweet, smiling, toaster oven pan-scraping, turkey-ass-eating, cigar stub-munching, Jello-package-stashing, big gold Jewish chain-wearing, adorable, darling, beloved Poppop. I miss you, I love you, and in so many ways I am you. You live through me in ways you could never imagine. You are a part of who I am, so much more than just biologically/physiologically. Your spirit lives in me … your table-hopping social grace, your warmth, your laugh, your humor … your dark under-eye shadows. You are here with me — always. Caress my face by way of the chilly July breeze. Make me smile by threatening to rain. Stay with me, be with me, sit with me.
What’s particularly eerie is that I wrote that while sitting on a bench in Battery Park. And just this morning, before I realized what the date was, I told myself that if I went out today, I was going to go down to Battery Park, take a notebook, and write.
I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad I stayed inside, where, by being so close to myself, I was reminded of him.
I love you, Poppop. And miss you like you wouldn’t believe. :-*